We can all agree; the menu is one of the most important components of a successful restaurant.  Often the key factor in a prospective guest’s decision to try your establishment is your menu. It is as much a tool for marketing as it is informative for a customer sitting at a table deciding what to order. Your menu is also one of the first impressions you’re able to give people of your establishment. A good menu will communicate your restaurant’s personality while promoting profitability and marketability.

Regardless of how great your restaurant may be- the food might be flawless, the ambience lovely, and the staff efficient and friendly – if your menu is not properly presented, you will potentially lose out on a significant amount of business if the customers are not motivated to try you out in the first place.

Here are a few ways you can make sure your menu is at its best to help increase your sales:


There is a fine line in determining how many items to have on a menu, and it varies from restaurant to restaurant. Typically, though, the rule of thumb is, “less is more”. A large menu with a variety of dishes simply overwhelms the guest, and opens BOH and FOH up to the possibility of more mistakes. Also, it costs more.

  • Think about it this way- the more items your menu has, the more ingredients you need. the more prep needs to be done, the more training needs to be done so that the cooks know how to prepare the items, and the servers know how to properly describe them.
  • Moreover, a larger menu means longer ticket times, which directly translates to less turnover. This means, obviously, that your sales have now been affected at both ends, with costs increasing and potential revenue decreasing.

Try to find areas in the menu that can be cut, offering fewer options with each one being executed really well. You can always add items as “features” at different times of the week.


Just as you care about beautiful plating, your menu’s layout should be clean and attractive also. Use a clean, easy to read font, and don’t overwhelm the content with a lot of graphics or images. Colour choices can have a big impact on how your establishment is perceived as well.

  • Green, for example, draws a psychological link toward freshness in customers’ minds.
  • Orange stimulates the brain by increasing its oxygen supply, and makes people feel hungry. Also, like green, orange is usually associated with healthy food.
  • Yellow can also stimulate appetite, and is a happy colour.
  • Red is a great colour to use to grab attention, and can therefore be strategically placed near items you wish to sell more of.

However, layout is not just about pretty imagery and colour choice. It is also a key driving force behind profitability and sales.

Menu Hierarchy

What guests see first when perusing a menu plays a significant role in sales. Customers often decide on their order after looking at an average of seven items. Fortunately, appetizers and “shareable” platters tend to yield the highest ATV (average transaction value), while also logically being the first items ordered in a regular dinner service. Next time you’re reading a menu, take note of where your eyes travel first.

The Golden Triangle

For most people, your eyes will first focus on the middle, then travel to the top right and finally the top left off the page. Menu engineers refer to this as the “Golden Triangle”. This is where your most profitable items should go; this does not necessarily mean the most expensive items on your menu, but the items that yield the highest profitability.  Be mindful of what your most profitable items are, and try to place them strategically in this area of the menu to boost sales.


The trend a few years ago in menu writing was minimalism. You may remember when it was cool to simply list the ingredients – separated by periods – under the item. Well, it turns out that people like proper descriptors. In fact, they appreciate informative copy that provides insight into not only the ingredients, but also the cooking method, food sources, and suggested beverage pairings.

  • Use the copy as an opportunity to dazzle guests and potentially upsell items.

If you’re choosing to write your own menu without any outside help, consider researching other menus to see what’s working for your competitors.

  • How are items described?
  • Do you find there is too much or too little detail used? Can you picture what it is you’re about to order, or are you left guessing?
  • How does your pricing compare to theirs?
  • Does your menu offer more variety? What commonalities does your menu have with your competitors?

Put yourself into the place of a prospective guest, and ask yourself these questions. The more you analyze the needs of your guests and the traits of your competitors, the more you will be able to successfully compete in the market.

Paul Morgan, Plan2Profit, 1-844-752-6776